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Plans to increase M-way speed limits will be subject to safety considerations

The new Transport Secretary has said that road safety concerns, far more than traffic flow, will influence his decisions to change the law on speed limits in the UK.

Patrick McLoughlin, an ex-miner who took over in the role from Justine Greening earlier this month, said that accidents happen when people break the speed limit.

He told Sky News: "What we have to have in our mind is that speed does kill and most of the very serious accidents that take place on our roads involve people disobeying the speed limits."

"What's very important is that we never lose sight about the issue of safety on our roads," he told the Murnaghan programme.

"First and foremost in my mind will be road safety, but I will look at the evidence - there's a consultation taking place on that.

"But nothing will detract me from what is safe overall, and road safety and our record on road safety has to be paramount in my mind.

While the speed limit proposals currently under consideration relate to the 70mph limit on motorways, these comments might hint at tougher regulations across the country, and partilcularly in 20mph urban zones that have not always been enforced.

Chris Peck, of the CTC, told Road.cc that the organisation welcomed the news.

"It’s encouraging that the new Secretary of State is committed to improving road safety and has correctly identified that speed is the crucial element in so many collisions," he said.

"This year saw the first increase in casualties for all road users, including a worrying increase in the risk (per mile travelled) of cycling.

"Tackling speeding and other poor driving practices can make a major difference to improving cycle safety. However, CTC recently discovered that the number of traffic officers has fallen by 30% over the last ten years – road safety won’t improve until proper enforcement takes place, using both cameras and uniformed officers.”

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.